<img style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2004-03_05\/Mills-Jodi.jpg" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\nYou cannot speak to A.J. Filippis, CPO, president\r\nof Wright & Filippis, Rochester Hills, Mich-igan, without\r\nrecognizing the value he places on family. This successful\r\nbusinessman and recipient of the Ernst & Young 2003 Eastern\r\nMichigan Entrepreneur of the Year Award Health Sciences Division\r\nnot only refers to his immediate family with much admiration and\r\naffection, but also to his employees, patients, business partners,\r\nand everyone who has helped make Wright & Filippis the company\r\nthat it is today.\r\n\r\nA life-altering accident at a young age involving Anthony\r\nFilippis, Sr., A.J.'s father, required the amputation of both legs\r\nbelow the knee. He experienced years of struggle and\r\ndisappointment. He then founded a company in partnership with Carl\r\nWright which helped start a new era in total healthcare for the\r\ndisabled. From computer-designed prosthetic limbs to homecare\r\nequipment, from the installation of wheelchair ramps and making\r\nhomes and businesses barrier-free, to its third-party\r\nadministration and claims-processing departments, Wright &\r\nFilippis is one of the largest privately held companies in the\r\ncountry dealing with total healthcare. Sixty years after that\r\npartnership began, the company employs 700 "family members" in\r\nthree states.\r\n<table class="clsTableCaption" style="float: right; width: 32.0743%; height: 301px;">\r\n<tbody>\r\n<tr>\r\n<td style="width: 100%;"><img src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2004-03_05\/Filippis-headshot.jpg" alt="A.J. Filippis, CPO" \/><\/td>\r\n<\/tr>\r\n<tr>\r\n<td style="width: 100%;">A.J. Filippis, CPO<\/td>\r\n<\/tr>\r\n<\/tbody>\r\n<\/table>\r\nA.J. Filippis shared his thoughts on what has made Wright & Filippis a success and how they plan to keep the dreamgoing.\r\n\r\n"We have truly been blessed," said Filippis. "When we talk about family, we also talk about our employees as part of our family. We try to share our successes with them. That has given us strength as an employer. We are all in this for the long haul." He added, "I get requests almost daily about mergers or acquisitions. I don't even respond because I have no interest. I get up every morning and look forward to coming to work, knowing there will be new challenges."\r\n<h1>Filippis' Defining Moment'<\/h1>\r\nThis is a man who truly loves his work and all it involves. What\r\nwas the defining moment in his life that really pushed him to\r\nfollow in his father and older brother Gene's footsteps? According\r\nto A.J., it was witnessing their intense care of a young girl who\r\nhad lost a leg to cancer back when this was nearly always a death\r\nsentence, due to a lack of the medical know-how and technology\r\navailable today.\r\n<table class="clsTableCaption" style="float: right;">\r\n<tbody>\r\n<tr>\r\n<td><img src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2004-03_05\/FilippisP.jpg" alt="Wright & Filippis Founder Anthony Filippis Sr. (left) and President A.J. Filippis (right) present Steve Peck, chairman of the Miracle League of Michigan, with a $25,000 contribution to help kick off the campaign drive to build a state-of-the-art adaptive baseball field in suburban Detroit." \/><\/td>\r\n<\/tr>\r\n<tr>\r\n<td>Wright & Filippis Founder Anthony Filippis Sr. (left) and President A.J. Filippis (right) present Steve Peck, chairman of the Miracle League of Michigan, with a $25,000 contribution to help kick off the campaign drive to build a state-of-the-art adaptive baseball field in suburban Detroit.<\/td>\r\n<\/tr>\r\n<\/tbody>\r\n<\/table>\r\nAs young A.J. observed the difficulties she and\r\nher family faced in all aspects of their lives, he also realized\r\nthe difference his father and brother were making through their\r\nwork and how much they cared. In 1968 A.J. began his career as an\r\northotic and prosthetic technician. He studied prosthetics and\r\northotics at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, later\r\nbeing certified in both disciplines by the American Board for\r\nCertification in Orthotics & Prosthetics (ABC).\r\n\r\nAlthough he obtained an associate degree in business from\r\nOakland Community College, Rochester, Michigan, he'll tell you that\r\nschool wasn't his forte. He has always been a hands-on kind of guy.\r\nBeing a prosthetist\/orthotist has always given him the "hands-on"\r\ninvolvement with patients that he enjoys. He revels in the fact\r\nthat at the end of the day, he has really accomplished something\r\nfor the good of others and can see the results of his work.\r\n\r\nFilippis also attributes the company's success to the spirit of\r\nvolunteerism that is instilled in the Filippis family and\r\nemployees. The company sponsors many events, such as the Gene\r\nFilippis Memorial Golf Tournament, held annually in honor of his\r\nolder brother who succumbed to cancer. In 2003 the proceeds from\r\nthat tournament benefited Leader Dogs for the Blind and the\r\nAthletes With Disabilities Hall of Fame--another project\r\nspearheaded by Anthony Sr.\r\n<h1>Giving Back' Marks 60th Anniversary<\/h1>\r\nThe year 2004 marks the 60th anniversary of Wright &\r\nFilippis. Sounds like time for a party, right? Well, they did that\r\non the 50th, so they decided it was time to celebrate in a\r\ndifferent way. "Giving back and saying thank you' to the people\r\nthat made us and continue to make us successful is the goal," said\r\nFilippis. Wright & Filippis is sponsoring a Charitable Donation\r\nProgram that will donate $1,000 to each of 60 different nonprofit\r\norganizations. Also as part of the 60th anniversary celebration,\r\nA.J. has instituted a community service program called "First to\r\nServe" in which Wright & Filippis employees volunteer their\r\ntime to help local nonprofit organizations. Under A.J.'s direction,\r\nWright & Filippis has also introduced a new disability\r\nawareness program to benefit hundreds of school children throughout\r\nthe state of Michigan, and the company is sponsoring an art contest\r\nthat will award savings bonds to elementary students later this\r\nyear. Another event is the Wheelchair Daze picnic held annually in\r\nAugust, when 1,300-1,400 persons enjoy a day at a park with\r\ncarnival rides accommodating wheelchair use, a petting zoo, and\r\npontoon boat rides. Filippis is quick to point out that the\r\ncompany's charitable ventures couldn't happen without the support\r\nand generosity of the employees of Wright & Filippis, as well\r\nas Blue Cross, physicians, therapists, suppliers, and others.\r\n<h1>Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last<\/h1>\r\nNice guys finish last--isn't that the saying? A.J. Filippis is\r\nproving that's just not true. His personal goal is always to be the\r\nbest he can be at what he does. This attitude permeates the company\r\nas it strives to provide the highest level of service. Patients who\r\nhave moved as far away as Florida and North Carolina return to\r\nMichigan to continue their care. "Treat the patient as if he or she\r\nwere your own mother or father" was Anthony Filippis Sr.'s advice\r\nyears ago. Helping patients to be in even better shape than they\r\nwere before undergoing an amputation is an objective. Many suffered\r\nmore disability or were even bedridden before amputation. After\r\namputation, they can often be helped to see they can be active and\r\nenjoy life.\r\n<h1>Maintaining Quality Despite Increasing Costs<\/h1>\r\nBusiness isn't all peaches and cream, however. The three-year\r\nfreeze in reimbursements will have an effect on how the business\r\noperates, Filippis said. All other costs will continue to rise:\r\nsalaries, employee health insurance, supplies, utilities, and\r\nothers.\r\n\r\nService often takes the hit as costs rise, and the bottom line\r\nis that the patient suffers. Wright & Filippis is researching\r\nways to improve its computer system to cut billing and other\r\nadministrative and business costs, translating into less of an\r\neffect on the clinical side.\r\n\r\nWith years of experience, the best advice Filippis feels he can\r\ngive someone just starting his or her own business is: "Never\r\nforget your other commitments." Naturally, he is referring to\r\nfamily. Work can be all-consuming, so priorities have to be set.\r\nStrong families are what promote success, both personally and\r\nprofessionally. When he was seven or eight, A.J. often accompanied\r\nhis father on extended weekend trips to promote the company. Those\r\ntrips helped A.J. to bond with his father, be a part of the future,\r\nand gave him the drive to not only follow in those footsteps, but\r\nalso to make a path of his own.\r\n<h1>Family Members in the Business<\/h1>\r\nAnother way to have close contact with your family, despite a\r\nheavy workload, is to employ them! Nancy Hakala, A.J.'s sister, has\r\nbeen working for 16 years with the company since raising her own\r\nfamily. Currently she is a director\/branch manager at the company's\r\nLivonia, Michigan, office as well as an account representative.\r\nGene's children are actively involved as well. Pam Lupo is director\r\nof Orthotics & Post Mastectomy Care, while her husband, Ron, is\r\na regional manager. Steve Filippis is director of operations. Their\r\nsister, Debbie Pincura, is director of network services and her\r\nhusband, John, is director of information technology.\r\n\r\nThen there are A.J.'s children. Tony III is the manager of the\r\nLifts, Elevators, and Ramps Division, and his brother, Jeremy,\r\nworks with him. Matthew is involved in the Organizational\r\nImprovement Department. Although still in college, younger brothers\r\nRyan and Dominic aren't off the hook--they show up to lend a hand\r\nduring summer break. A.J.'s daughter, Jennifer Cattel, is also in\r\nthe business of serving and helping others as a second-grade\r\nschoolteacher. And A.J. emphasized none of this would be possible\r\nwithout the support of his wife, Mary. She also worked for the\r\ncompany for a year before the birth of their first child. Mary's\r\ndevotion to her children and husband is what has enabled them to\r\nmaintain a solid, loving family throughout the years when "the\r\nCompany" could have swallowed them, A.J. said. And now another\r\ngeneration of the Filippis family is on the scene. Granddaughter\r\nAdrianna is the light of her grandparents' eyes and will definitely\r\nhave the opportunity to take up where her elders leave off.\r\n<h1>What about the Future?<\/h1>\r\n"There will continue to be growth in the profession we are in,"\r\nFilippis said matter-of-factly. "We aren't going to lack for\r\npatients to service, whether on the P&O side or the home\r\nmedical equipment side. What we need to do is be smarter in how we\r\ndo things, so we can continue to provide quality of service with\r\nthe restrictions that we have due to cost containment."\r\n\r\nIf the past is any indicator of the future, Wright &\r\nFilippis, its founding family, and its family of employees will\r\nhave no trouble continuing to fulfill that goal.